Cronicle has quickly expanded from a Midwest tech blog project based out of Ann Arbor-Detroit covering the emergence of Midwest cities as tech hubs to a content marketing agency for tech startups that are quickly growing in AI, software, cybersecurity, and other tech-related industries that have a growing footprint in the Midwest and across the U.S. Today we are welcoming Keith Phillips as our new VP of Content for AI, Higher Education, and Software.
Keith Phillips brings to Cronicle a deep background in higher education and startups. He is the founder of realLINGUA language software, which is a tech-enabled software for learning a second language. We sat down with him for a little Q&A so you can get to know him a little better. Keith will be helping us expand our content marketing in several industries in which he has experience, including AI and software, higher education and publishing. Please help us welcome Keith Phillips to the Cronicle team!
Q: Tell us about your background and how you got into tech.
KP: In addition to a passion for languages and education, I am also a technology enthusiast and I have had decidedly entrepreneurial inclinations from a very young age. A number of years ago, I did an academic sabbatical as a visiting professor in France where I got to take a deep dive into what was happening at the forefront of both computational linguistics and natural language processing. That experience really opened my eyes to how data science and technology could be simultaneously leveraged to really propel language learning forward. So after impacting the lives of many thousands of mostly adult learners as a college professor, I realized that I had the requisite skills and entrepreneurial mindset to help people with their language learning, only this time at scale. Out of all of that, realLINGUA was started as a tech-enabled/tech-driven solution to help people learn how to speak a language as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Q: What was the most important thing that founding realLINGUA taught you?
KP: As realLINGUA’s founder and CEO, I have had the immense pleasure of being able to lead a super-talented, diverse team, all the way from idea to product to revenue. To be honest, while a startup is a huge roller coaster ride (every day!), I wouldn’t trade my time doing that for anything. I basically got an on the job education in entrepreneurship, and I was able to continue to build on my knowledge about artificial intelligence as well. That, in my opinion, is hard to beat. Beyond those three things (leadership, entrepreneurship, AI), I think the most important thing that founding realLINGUA taught me was that I had way more grit and resolve in me than I ever knew. There is a quote attributed to Howard H. Stevenson, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School that sums that up for me: “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources currently controlled.” That pursuit takes a lot of grit amid all of the uncertainty and ambiguity, and I was glad to learn that I had a fair amount of it.
“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources currently controlled.”— Howard H. Stevenson, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School
Q: What are your hopes for software and online content in the future of the industry?
KP: I would like to continue to see progress in the areas of big data helping writers source and create content. There is a lot of information and data out there these days, and I think one of the big challenges going forward will be taking all of that, synthesizing it, and even refining it for a more sophisticated audience — enthusiasts and experts in a particular field that are really looking for content with more depth and intellectual heft. From my perspective, there is a ton out there right now that serves a more general audience, where if you are seeking to gain a cursory or general understanding about something, you have a lot to choose from. Going beyond that cursory level of content creation to creating content that not only connects with and speaks to the experts and enthusiasts, but helps them do what they do even better, is where some of the big gains will be in online content in the years to come.
Q: What excites you about tech and online software or AI right now?
KP: Right now I am really excited about what is happening with neuro-symbolic AI and zero-shot learning in AI. Knowable Magazine called neuro-symbolic AI “AI’s next big leap,” and IBM states that they see neuro-symbolic AI as “as a pathway to achieve artificial general intelligence.” Zero-shot learning, where a model can learn to recognize things that it hasn’t explicitly seen before in training, is not simply learning, but learning how to learn and knowing how to figure out things that are unknown. Beyond the myriad implications and ramifications of an intelligent agent that can understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can, this is really exciting stuff.
Welcome to the team, Keith! You can see why we love him. He’s smart and all about entrepreneurship and education, but he’s also really easy to talk to. Drop him a note at his LinkedIn or say hi on our social media. We’re happy to have you aboard the Cronicle team!